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Forgiveness is one of the great themes of Lent. One might say that the whole of Christian revelation is concerned with God's forgiveness of ourselves, but I wonder how often we stop to think what forgiveness means in our own lives. We have become so accustomed to such things as "the victim impact statement" which frequently contains a line stating that life has been ruined and there can be no forgiveness for the one responsible. Nation states and terrorist organizations alike cultivate an attitude of unforgiveness which "justifies" retaliation and armed conflict of various kinds. Forgiveness is hard, of course, whether given or accepted. It means taking responsibility for our actions and refusing to be a moral zombie. So often when we say we forgive what we really mean is that we put the other on probation: one false step and wham! we remember every wrong ever done, and time is no healer in such situations. As a Christian, I don't have any choice in the matter: I must allow the Lord's forgiveness to work through me. The important point is that it is the Lord's forgiveness, not my own. I believe that forgiveness is necessary for our very humanity. It is somehow "wired into" us, and when we ignore its imperatives things go badly awry. Here are two brief quotations worth pondering. Neither is Christian, but I think every Christian should be able to see the point of them.

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Gandhi

"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible." Voltaire